"If 'tomb' is 'toom', why isn't 'bomb' - 'boom'?"
MUSIC REVIEWS - CDS, EPS, CD SINGLES, ET CETERA
by Richard Karsmakers
(with a guest review by Joris van Slageren)
The load of CDs and such has dried up somewhat, or at least the
variety. "Why?" you may ask, panic in your voice. Well, the
answer is that I am no longer on the editorial staff of
"Avalanche" because I had voiced once too many my dissent at the
other people's terrible English (that I had to correct each time
- tedious!) and the general low level of journalism (not that I
am a good one, but suffice to say the others were even worse!).
When I wanted to get in the Dream Theater interview featured
elsewhere in this issue of ST NEWS, the senior editor found that
reason enough to, well, chuck me out. Obviously, Dream Theater
were too much a faggot poser band for him (whereas they quite
Anyway, so I will be receiving somewhat less CDs, and there'll
be more in this column that I actually bought myself (or even
Hope you'll continue to like it nonetheless. And if you don't,
don't restrain yourself from adding to my funds so I can buy more
ANATHEMA - PENTECOST III (PEACEVILLE / MUSIC FOR NATIONS)
Jesus H. Christ! (highly inappropriate vocal ejaculation in the
context of this band)...40 minutes of new Anathema material on
this mini-CD to smoothen up the fans for their impending "Rise
I wouldn't say this is the most musical CD Anathema have ever
made. The songs are rather long-winded, leaning onto the pompous.
Topics are generally fairly doomey, not as dreamey as their
earlier material. But sometimes the songs really kick some
serious butt. And, of course, there's a hidden bonus track: The
universally acclaimed "666" with its familiar one-chord sing-
along structure that is the most perfect concert closing song
Well, it isn't exactly one-chord, but the lyrics are all three-
word: Six, six and six.
Although I have to say "Serenades" and the "Crestfallen EP" are
a class better than "Pentecost III", the latter is absolutely
necessary for the fans to buy. It's deep, dark doom metal of the
kind that strikes you right in the face with its leaden
As a matter of fact, my own enthusiasm displayed here has caused
in me a need to play it again...right now...
LABERINTO - LABERINTO (VIP ONE)
Very much in the vein of Overdose is this new debut mini-CD of
(Brazilian?) band Laberinto. The music is very similar, almost as
if by the same band, actually. Only the percussion - they use
native South-American instruments quite a bit there - is actually
better than that of Overdose; it's less similar all-over, and
jungle samples are used to add to the overall effect.
Although only containing only about 17 minutes of music,
Laberinto's debut mini-CD is an interesting product. The vocals
are not like Sepultura/Overdose but quite good nonetheless,
though some of the vowel sounds come out in the same way as that
stool pigeon in "Miami Vice" (Ziggy, isn't it?).
QUEENSRYCHE - BRIDGE (EMI)
The first of several Queensryche CD singles to be reviewed
here, and probably not even half of the total amount of stuff EMI
have released over the last few months. What we have here is the
same as "Part I" of the "I am I" CD single with the exception of
the first track (which is "I am I" on the other, of course, and
"Bridge" on this one). It's the other tracks that are
interesting, though. First there's "Dirty Lil' Secret", a song
off the "Promised Land" session that was perhaps too light or
uncomplex to be included on that album. It's not particularly
remarkable, though typically Queensryche of course. Second we
have "Real World", the song Queensryche contributed to the
Schwarzenegger "Last Action Hero" film (which, by the way, I
enjoyed very much despite the flop everyone says it was!).
Beautifully orchestrated with the aid of Michael Kamen, and
finally available for those fans who didn't want to buy the full
soundtrack. Last, but certainly not least, we find "Someone Else
(with full band)". Although the original is stunning, performed
on "Promised Land" only with vocals and piano, this version is
about 3 or 4 minutes longer and none the less impressive. It's
not a simple remix or with instruments added, it's really a new
performance of the song. Awesome.
A very interesting CD single.
QUEENSRYCHE - BRIDGE PART I (EMI)
I believe this is a UK import, and together with the next title
reviewed here comprises a kind of 2 CD single set. It starts off,
predictably, with "Bridge". The interesting bits are the extras -
three live tracks taped at the London Astoria gig on October 20th
1994. The packaging also has five colour pics of the band, but
those are hardly interesting I think (who needs 'em?). The live
tracks are "Damaged" (which just so happens to be my fave
"Promised Land" track!), "The Killing Word" and "The Lady Wore
Black". The latter two songs are performed in the same
arrangements as those used during the MTV Unplugged sessions,
i.e. a lot softer and less aggressive than the originals but
nonetheless much worth listening to.
QUEENSRYCHE - BRIDGE PART II (EMI)
Let's skip "Bridge" right away and get to the next tracks. So
here we have live London Astoria versions of "Silent Lucidity"
(again in an "Unplugged" kind of version), "My Empty Room" (quite
beautifully re-arranged, almost unrecognisable except for the
lyrics) and "Real World" (quite an unexpected track, I would say,
and well-played despite the obvious and quite deafening lack of
With the sole inclusion of these softer tracks in the
Queensryche spectrum, it seems to me that the band are trying to
get across more mellow than they really are. I hope this does not
bode too badly for the future. The live tracks included on these
two CD singles have been excellently recorded and produced, so I
hope it won't be too long until Queensryche do a live album again
(though I'd rather not have them include these six tracks because
that'd mean many people - including me - would have them
NIGHTFALL - EONS AURA (HOLY)
Greek metal Gods Nightfall have, while the world awaits
breathlessly their next full-length studio effort, released a
warm-up EP by the name of "Eons Aura". Almost 20 minutes of
mystical metal in the typical Nightfall vein that won't
disappoint any of their dedicated followers.
"Eons Aura" kicks right off with the amazing "Eroding", both
musically and lyrically impressive, and the band relentlessly
pursue that quality until the dying chords of the fourth and last
Eroticism and spiritual experiences are the main sources for
Nightfall, setters of the Greek metal trend and proud carriers of
that flame. This is an EP no progressive Atmospheric & Epic War
Metal fan should be without. Excellent, intricate, majestic,
VAI, STEVE - ALIEN LOVE SECRETS
"Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar..."
Thank god someone said this to Steve Vai after "Sex & Religion".
Let's credit Steve for going back on the guitar without vocals,
strictly "Passion & Warfare" style, and giving the guitar loving
fraternity another silvery disc to drool over.
Brian May once called Steve Vai "the genius, the master of the
space age guitar" and he was quite right. Apart from the fact
that Vai definitely knows his chops, this EP has some really
heavy and some really amazing stuff on it. It kicks right off
with "Bad Horsie", a song that includes a stunning variety of
sounds made on a guitar, including a horse neighing as well as a
horse doing something (or having something done to it) that I'd
prefer never to witness when having dinner. In another, rather
experimental song Steve amazed me by causing his guitar to make
sounds like rain falling on a roof.
Of the others songs, "Juice" is a bit ordinary in comparison
with the rest, "Kill the Guy with Ball" is severely experimental
and "Tender Surrender" is a good blues ballad (even though one of
its motifs is much like a Stuart Hamm song). A totally witty
song is "Ya Yo Gakk", where Steve plays along to baby utterances
of his son Julian Vai (of who he's no doubt very proud).
Although this EP contains no "For the Love of God" or "Rescue me
or Bury me" quality tear-invoking masterpieces, it is an
essential addition to the Vai fan's CD collection (or every
guitar lover's, for that matter).
For those among you who own a computer it might be worth while
to note that an interactive CD ROM of Steve Vai is underway to
"develop your guitar musicianship and individuality" on the
BATHORY - OCTAGON (BLACK MARK/MFN)
Yes, the Quarton horde is back from the Venomian times in which
they were spawn, flourished, prospered and died. Bathory wanted
to be the most extreme Satanic band with lamb slaughterings on
stage and all that lark, but somehow it never happened. I haven't
got a clue how Bathory sounded in yon olden days, but right now
they sound, well, enjoyable but a slight bit dated. When I hear
the riffs I cannot make up my mind whether I like them because
they're excellent or whether they remind me of something good
that I've heard before. The bottom line is that I like it, I
guess, and it's extreme enough to be liked by the old fans ("eat
my shit, suck my dick", that kind of stuff).
I don't know if Bathory should still exist, but "Octagon" is a
fine and rather extreme CD that I play quite a lot and like. Some
of the songs are quite good and have an on-driving riff/drums
rhythm that tends to get the dirt out of the ol' hearing ducts.
The last song is a capable cover of Kiss' "Deuce". Maybe a bit
superfluous, but nice nonetheless, and heavier than the original.
"Octagon" is one of those CDs you play regularly after buying
but then doesn't really leave much of an impression. Though an
admirable effort on Quorton's behalf, it'll not be found on many
"top 10" lists at the end of 1995.
ESOTERIC - EPISTEMOLOGICAL DESPONDENCY (AESTHETIC DEATH)
Slower than Cathedral, more despondent than My Dying Bride, and
with plenty of experimental sound effects thrown in: It's the
music made by Esoteric that you get on the 89 minute double CD by
the name of "Epistemological Despondency". I can already hear the
critics wailing, "this is too much over the top" and "this is
actually very booooriiiing", but not to me it isn't. This British
six-piece had made a chillingly haunting product that is surely
worth listening to if ever you feel like jumping off a cliff,
stopping an Intercity train with your bald patch or generally
putting an end to a miserable life not worth being alive in.
Depressive? Sure! Repetitive? Yes, maybe, but that just adds to
the positively entrancing experience as a whole.
The double CD contains only 6 songs; a short one (less than 3
minutes), a long one (over 7 minutes), two really long ones
(12'38" and 18'59") and two extremely long ones (20'29" and a
whoppin' 26'20"). Plenty of time to get sucked into this
topotypal doom, played at a snail's pace but oh so enchanting!
FATES WARNING - CHASING TIME (METAL BLADE)
Metal Blade have released a cross-segment of Fates Warning's
material previous to their latest CD, "Inside Out", on an 78'00"
CD by the name of "Chasing Time". Well, I am lying here, for
there is one track from "Inside Out" on the compilation:
"Monument" (which is one of the finest tracks). Much of the best
stuff of the band can be found on this compilation, including
"Guardian", "The Seventh Hour", "Eye to Eye" and "Point of View".
There are also some new tracks - or previously unreleased anyway
- in the form of "At Fates Fingers" (an instrumental version of
"At Fates Hands", quite excellent), "We Only Say Goodbye" (a
remix) and "Circles" (parts of which ended up, after the song was
scrapped, in "Outside Looking In" and "Shelter Me" on "Inside
Out"). There's not much to be said about this, really. It's a
really nice compilation if you haven't got too much Fates Warning
stuff yet, but not worth getting for the three "exclusive" tracks
alone. For those wanted to get in touch with Fates Warning for
the first time, however, it's quite perfect. And it also makes
sure you have a 78'00" CD, which is quite something.
MY DYING BRIDE - THE ANGEL AND THE DARK RIVER (PEACEVILLE/MFN)
One of the very best CDs to have been released so far this year
is, without a doubt, My Dying Bride's third full-length CD, "The
Angel and the Dark River". Over an hour of beautiful, moodily
melancholic music is to be found on this digipack CD with stoic
but tasteful artwork.
Never before has the band been produced as crisply as they've
been now. Never before did I hear the bass this well, and Aaron's
grunt (that I liked) has been replaced by more regular singing
(that I also like). Seven long pieces, kicking off with the 12
minute "The Cry of Mankind", pass the listener by. Although the
last 3 minutes of that very long song are, on the down side, a
bit boring, none of the other many minutes on the CD have a
boredom factor within the discernible.
I personally thought it would perhaps be a bit too much to ask
of this band to release three excellent albums before losing
inspiration, but they have. And I think it shows a clear path of
evolution. It's still doomy as hell, but oh so beautiful...
And for those who you who have missed out on the MDB Collectors
Club vinyl single, which had the exclusive track "Sexuality of
Bereavement" on it, well, that's on "The Angel and the Dark
Definitely the best CD of 1995 so far.
ON THORNS I LAY - SOUNDS OF BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCE (HOLY RECORDS)
All of you probably know I really like the stuff put out by the
French label Holy Records. Septic Flesh, Nightfall and Elend were
among the greatest of yours truly's musical discoveries of 1994,
and already they have released new material this year, also of
new and really interesting bands.
A potentially interesting addition is On Thorns I Lay with their
album "Sounds of Beautiful Experience". It's a Greek band,
labelled by Holy to produce (now get this) voluptuous forward
metal - a label open to all kinds of different interpretations. I
think the words they should have used (and, indeed, intended)
were sensuous and progressive, and even that is not exactly what
On Thorn I Lay is like.
"Sounds of Beautiful Experience" is not as well-produced as I am
used to from the Holy Records stable, and although the songs are
fairly promising with interesting breaks and changes of rhythm,
the whole thing is put to shame by what is billed the most unique
about the band - its vocals. Vocalist Steven almost whispers the
vocals in what I assume must seem voluptuous (or sensuous, or
whatever), but it's actually, well, how do I say this with tact,
Hm...seems I am not too tactiferous after all (and, now I come
to think of it, "tactiferous seems not even an English word
though I like the way it rolled off my tongue, or at least off my
Sometimes he grunts or sings or shouts normally, but most of it
is just horrible. A real shame. And his Greek accent is horrible,
too. The lyrics are really pretentious, which in itself is
nothing bad. But his pronunciation is really awful. Example:
/skeen/ instead of /seen/ for the English word "scene". I
understand it's the Greek way of pronunciation, but I'd rather
have them stick to Greek if they can't do decent English.
On Thorns I Lay, if produced better and with a more
straightforward vocalist (I am not saying he must grunt or
anything, but not this gruesome pseudo-horny whispering please!),
could do a lot better. If they ever get a chance to do a second
album, I hope they'll get their act together rather less
pretentiously. It's not a bad album altogether, but definitely my
least favourite Holy Records release after Misanthrope's "Totem
Taboo" (which is also a bit sad, as the main Misanthrope man is
the boss of Holy Records and I do want to make them feel good
about what they're doing because, as a whole, they most
You can't have 'em all, I guess.
ORPHANAGE - OBLIVION (DISPLEASED)
One of the finest albums of 1995 so far, together with that of
My Dying Bride, is Orphanage's "Oblivion". And it's definitely
one of the finer debut albums I've ever heard.
I forgot what Orphanage is labelled as. I think keywords are
"progressive", "Celtic" and "doom", and I think (although I
honestly wouldn't know about the "Celtic" bit) that it's not too
far off the mark. What it boils down to for those of you who are
rather less into putting music in strictly defined categories is
that we have a six-piece here that combine an interting three-
layer set of vocals (soprano/grunt/regular) with awesome riffs
that provoke head movement irrefutably. Songs like "Chameleon",
"The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" and "Sea of Dreams" are true
classics in the doom metal vein with interesting interludes
between the flip-invoking heavier and faster passages. As a
matter of fact there are only two somewhat weaker sections on
this CD - a really short one at the very beginning of "The
Collector" and the intro to "Victim of Fear" - and that's all. I
think this is the most promising Dutch release since Altar's
"Youth Against Christ" in mid 1994.
The one thing is that, after one CD already (barring the two
demos of which a fair amount of songs can be found on the CD),
they have a very recognisable sound that. If repeated on the
second CD, this might cause people to think they're rehashing. I
hope this band will be able to make more than just one classic
PYOGENESIS - PYGOGENESIS (OSMOSE)
This is Pyogenesis' debut album, released in 1992. It's not old
enough for the "Old Stuff" column but I did want to write
something about this, because this is the stuff that sends
shivers down spines and right upto the nervous centre where you
cannot but worship it.
Pyogenesis is a death metal kind of band, I suppose, but they've
got good musicians, additional melodious guitar work in the vein
of Nightfall, and three vocalists (I know of only one band like
this, and that's Orphanage from the Netherlands, and maybe Holy
Records' Elend). One of the vocalists grunts, one of them sings
normally, and there's a siren-like female singing of Martha
Gonzalez-Martin (Flower of Evil).
Although the lyrics make little sense (well, they're German
after all...) the music is great and the effect of those vocals
is heart-rending in a positive way. This is stuff any doom/death
metal fan has to listen to at least once!
One bad thing, though: The album is only slightly longer than
half an hour. You'd better get it at a 50% off sale (like I did
<grin>, and where I got Elegy's "Supremacy", Judas Priest's
"Painkiller", WASP's "The Crimson Idol" and Howe II's "Now Hear
(Sorry about this bragging. Couldn't resist)
SEPTIC FLESH - E?O?TPON (HOLY RECORDS)
In 1994, my personal favourite album was Septic Flesh' "Mystic
Places of Dawn". It was a progressively atmospheric death/doom
metal album that took further the path headed into by Nightfall
by adding even more eerie guitar parts and using keyboards as if
their lives depended on it. Truly a beautiful album, and I can't
say the time until the release of their second album has been one
of easy waiting.
On E?O?TPON (which means "the inner mirror", "the inner view"),
some more accent is put on the metal side of things, losing
slightly the dreamy quality of some of masterpieces on their
earlier album. Having said that, you will want to know whether
E?O?TPON is better or not quite as good as "Mystic Places of
Dawn". Well, to put it plainly, it is almost as good. I think the
thing on the down side is still the production. Somehow I think
the guitars don't need to sound the way they do; their distortion
could be much clearer. The music doesn't sound bad, not at all,
but it could have been better.
Still, I think this is definitely one of the top three albums of
1995 so far, at least as far as I am concerned. They have
retained much of the originality of their debut album and
traversed further on seldom trodden avenues. The final song,
"Narcissim", for example, has rather very experimental segments
and non-grunted parts. These guys surely have not dedicated
themselves to repeating the same thing all over again, which I
think required courage and inspiration. I think they have both.
And what it boils down for me is that I've got another album in
my collection that will be played quite often, and that already
stzarted to grow on me most fervently after having listened to it
about 3 times.
Septic Flesh are now down to two people, and drums are taken
care of by Kostas (= Nightfall's Costas?). I hope this will not
prevent them from appearing on a stage some day, for I'd give my
right arm to see these guys perform their stuff live.
Check this stuff out or, er, be square.
SERENITY - THEN CAME SILENCE (HOLY RECORDS)
I don't really know what to say about this album. Sure it's
good, and it's produced very well, too. Serenity are from England
and it shows. The lyrics are a bit more down to earth and - yes,
I know I am a bit of a sticker for that and it may be a fault in
me - their English pronunciation is excellent.
Serenity have written a handful of good songs but the bad thing
about them is that they don't really lift themselves from the
grey mass. They're not bad at all but they're not exceptionally
good either. It's just a really decent album that makes me
wonder, very much in the same vein I mentioned with Bathory's
"Octagon", whether anyone will remember it in another year's
time. I know this sounds really harsh, for it's a good CD. It's
just that there is so much very good stuff available, even from
Holy Records themselves.
TRISTITIA - ONE WITH DARKNESS (HOLY RECORDS)
Once more I have to say that the people of Holy Records are very
much at one line with my personal taste. Usually, anyway. Another
fine example of the talent the people of Holy have managed to
sign is Tristitia, a Swedish three-piece this time. The music is
pure dark heavy metal with interesting acoustic guitar interludes
and vocals that'll make your skin crawl - sometimes rasping like
a chainsaw but always understandable, sometimes almost operaic
and sounding a bit like some of the Isengard songs. Production is
excellent, and the compositions are heavy, doomy, but also of a
quality that will remain with you after you turned off the CD
player. I found myself in bed with "Kiss the Cross" in my mind,
which is usually a very good sign of music being great (at least
as far as my own taste is concerned, of course).
A fine vocalist, great songs and incredible atmosphere signify
this "extreme dark doom", with some gothic chanting and
classical instruments thrown in for good accord. "One with
Darkness" is an excellent album that all worshippers of dark
metal with aggressive vocals will dig seriously.
VARIOUS ARTISTS - DEATH...IS JUST THE BEGINNING III (NUCLEAR
After part I and part II, Nuclear Blast have now released the
double CD "Death...is just the beginning III" - an excellent
slice of what they and their associated/befriended record labels
have on offer.
It is really a rare occasion when anything ending with "III" is
any good. "Jaws III", "Amityville Horror III", "Halloween III",
"Friday the 13th III", "Rambo III"...they all sucked the big
one in a major way. Actually, only "Indiana Jones III" ("Indiana
Jones and the Last Crusade") springs to mind as an exception
(maybe together with "Wet, Wild and Willing III" <grin>). And, as
of now, this brilliant double treat CD will have to be added to
that small list. Tracks featured here include grade A material
from Benediction, Amorphis, Gorefest, Exit 13, Brutality, Septic
Flesh, Cradle of Filth and Sinister, whereas previously
unreleased tracks can be found of, among quite a few others,
Hypocrisy, Meshuggah, Mortician, Pyogenesis, Incantation,
Celestial Season, Acheron and Belphegor. Only a few of the 36
tracks (>145 minutes of music) are actually bad. In this category
the tracks by Meatlocker and Macabre definitely belong. Bloody
As a whole, I really don't think anyone could be disappointed by
this excellent collection of the deadest death metal this side of
Hades and Mayhem...
VARIOUS ARTISTS - METAL MILITIA, A TRIBUTE TO METALLICA (BLACK
In the previous issue there was quite an avalanche of "tribute
albums", and this time there's another album in this category
worth mentioning. This time Metallica is the 'victim', and it has
to be said that it's quite an excellent tribute album indeed. A
host of more or lesser known Swedish bands (among which Dark
Tranquility and Afflicted) play a variety of Metallica classics
such as "Motorbreath", "Fight Fire with Fire", "Fade to Black",
"The Thing That Should Not Be", "Eye of the Beholder" and even
"My Friend of Misery".
Musically everything is exactly like one would have hoped -
rough and aggressive versions of the originals with only the
vocals really making a change occasionally. "For Whom the Bell
Tolls", for example, would have been better off with less
'modern' vocals. "Fight Fire with Fire" is very interesting
because it is played at at least twice the regular speed, but
otherwise the versions are much the same to the way Metallica did
it, just much rougher and in-the-face.
Together with "Nativity in Black" and "Smoke on the Water", the
Black Sabbath and Deep Purple tribute albums respectively, these
are the ones you should most be thinking of getting.
VIPER - LIVE MANIACS IN JAPAN (MASSACRE RECORDS)
(guest review by Joris van Slageren)
Mix some Helloween and a lot of punk rock (for example Ramones)
and you might end up with something that sounds vaguely like
Brazil's Viper. Not as well-known as their fellow countrymen
Sepultura, the Japanese seem to like them just the same, judging
from this recording. The tracks were recorded live in Tokyo,
Japan, in June 1993. Most of the album has that nice up-tempo
punk rock speed, together with more melodious guitar stuff that
makes a very listenable kind of music. But on the other hand, to
be a major band they still have to make that step from average to
great that is hard for many bands. In other words: Although it's
not bad, it doesn't have that little extra originality,
excellence or whatever that sets a good band apart from an
average one. The CD also features two cover versions, one called
"We will rock you" and the other "I wanna be sedated", the
original versions of which are from two very famous bands that I
don't have to mention. In the CD booklet are black and white
photographs that show the usual live and back stage scenes. Nice
if the price is somewhere in de mid-price range.
More in the next issue of ST NEWS.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.